The questions I wish I’d answered when starting an architectural practice

If you were to start an architecture practice from first principles, what questions might you ask? What other questions might be helpful?

If I was to start a new architectural practice, I’d take it back to first principals. That requires asking some hard questions in a process of reasoning. Here’s what I’d consider, imagine you’re being asked these questions by someone that doesn’t know a thing about architecture or architectural practice.

Why are you setting up the practice in this way? Why do you think this?

Taking into consideration how you describe yourself and your service, the processes you’ll put in place, your target market, your marketing, and so on. Think of every angle to look at your practice from and really question why this way?

How do you know you this is the right way? What if, for example, you were to do the opposite?

Really investigate your assumptions here. What are they? How might you challenge them? Are you right to follow through now you understand they’re assumptions?

What is the supporting evidence that backs up your approach?

Just because everyone else does it that way doesn’t mean it’s the best way. There’s a tendency for people to consider incremental change rather than really challenge their mental model of practice. Look for evidence outside of architectural practice – it may support your approach it may also help you to question it. What does it look like?

Are you sure you’re right? What would someone else say?

Be honest here. Really challenge your thinking. There’s always another perspective.

What if you’re wrong about the way you’re establishing your practice? What are the consequences?

Focus your critical consideration on the consequences and implication of the thinking you’ve done to date. Are there still any assumptions here, are new ones highlighted and is there anything you hadn’t seen before?

Now go back through the previous questions and original answers. Do you still think you’re correct? What are your conclusions?

Again, be honest here. It can be scary doing something different to everyone else and it doesn’t mean you’re wrong. It’s always easier to follow the path others have trod than make your own. A handy little exercise is to ask ‘Why’ five times as part of this final concluding exercise.

Once you’ve completed the Socratic questioning to establish your first principles, you can consider how you’d build your practice differently. Try a new model or at least a different one that’s built from the ground up, rather than an evolution of the last. The best solution is not what everyone else is doing.

If you want to really dig into this challenging thinking here’s some more hard questions for you to answer,

What’s the real challenge for you here?

What does success look like for you?

What are you not doing out of fear it might not work?

How would you know you are wrong about what you’re proposing or doing?

Where do your goals have you in a years time, three years time, a decades time?

Where are the blind spots that have tripped you up before?

Who can help you?

Of course it’s never too late to go through the exercise and answer these questions. The trick is to deeply consider them, answer them honestly and then consider the implications of the answers you arrive at.

What might you need to change?

Image by Pixabay on Pexels

Hi! I’m Michael

I’m an architect and coach. I help architects rethink their practice and support them as they uncover better ways to work. I’ve worked in architecture for over 25 years, and I ran my own practice for 14 years. I understand architectural practice from the inside out. Fun Fact: my NSW architect’s registration is #10 007 and I have a license to skill.

I believe improving practice takes asking hard questions and deep listening.

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